Nail Yakupov

NHL Central Scouting final rankings make Nail Yakupov their top prospect


With the NHL Draft lottery set to take place tomorrow night, leave it to Central Scouting to give teams their final rankings so everyone knows who they’re gunning for a the draft in June.

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone who has followed the player draft rankings all year, but Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov is still the No. 1 North American player to be taken this year courtesy of The NHL Central Scouting Service put out their final listing of North American players ahead of the June draft and Yakupov, like he did before the season and at the mid-term, took home the top spot.

At 5’10” 190 pounds, Yakupov isn’t physically imposing, but according to Mike Morreale of, he’s earning comparisons to Pavel Bure with his speed and scoring ability. At 18-years-old, Yakupov could be the piece any of the lottery teams need to get a game-changing scorer.

Rounding out the top-five skaters on the Central Scouting list, defenseman Ryan Murray is the new No.2 swapping spots with forward Mikhail Grigorenko. Forward Alex Galchenyuk sits fourth while defenseman Morgan Rielly is fifth. Forward Filip Forsberg topped Central Scouting’s list of European skaters. Forsberg is expected to be in talk for one of the lottery picks this year as well.

Who gets to snag Yakupov? The Blue Jackets have the best shot of winning the draft lottery and picking first while Edmonton, Montreal, the New York Islanders, and Toronto round out the group with a shot at the top pick. Any team can win the lottery, but only teams in the bottom five have a shot at the first pick overall.

Check out this video from on Yakupov:

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
AP Photo
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.